Open-Ended Solo Adventure 1

It’s been a long time since I’ve had the time to play a solo adventure. Since I last blog I’ve moved, changed jobs, and had several other major life events (mostly good!). I’ve been too busy to play, but things are kind of settling down now and I’ve had the bug to start a new solo campaign. My gaming things–dice, notebooks, rules–are currently in storage, so I’ve decided to play the game using just the rpgsolo.com website’s tools (mostly mythic along with some non-mythic yes/no rules).

For this game, I’ve decided to start with absolutely nothing in mind other than a fantasy setting. Everything else will be established as I go. These types of games tend to peter out due to lack of direction, so for this one I’m going to try to keep narration relatively short and roll with the punches from the oracle as much as I can.

One other change that I’m going to try making from my traditional Labyrinth Lord/house ruled setting is to use a very rules-light character system, tending more toward narrative than gaming. My PC will be more durable than traditional 1e solo characters, but I’m not going to use that knowledge to make crazy choices unless it really makes sense for the character.

Character Creation

Am I a man? (50/50) No

Do I use magic? (50/50) No

Am I very skilled? (50/50) Yes

A woman adventurer, then. A thief and warrior.

What have I done in the past? Oppose / Travel

Banditry. Hm. An ignoble start.

Am I still a criminal? (50/50) Yes, but…

Only for want of better work. Times are hard on the frontier, and a woman alone has few ways to make a silver.

Who do I know? Enthusiastically / Exotic – Communicate / Jealously

A foreign eccentric who trades in secrets and stolen goods. A fence.

A man? (50/50) Yes, but…

A eunuch then. [+NPC: Eunuch fence]

Who else do I know? Majestically / Interesting – Excitement / Peace

A sorcerer of some power who either has or is struggling for control over an area.

Is this person a foe? (50/50) Yes

Is it a man? (50/50) Yes, and…

Not only a man, but two men: the Javie brothers. Sorcerers and bastards both. They control a small patch of earth not too far away and one too many of their wagons went missing. Now they’ve an eye out for me. [+NPC: the Javie brothers]

What am I doing out here on the frontier? PC negative – Disrupt / Jealously

The last job went well. Too well. A wagon of goods were taken, but it turned out the iron and wood were covering a chest full of magical components for the Javie brothers. My second in command–the bastard–took it and fled. The Javies caught him and I knew it wouldn’t be long before he gave me up to save his own life. And so I found myself here, on a dusty road winding toward the very ass-end of civilization. [+NPC: traitor second-in-command]

My face is known in the west. My name is known even more widely than that. So now I’m here, and I’ve got to…

Debase / Information

Find out one way or the other whether this map I found in the Javies’ wagon–the one my traitor underling didn’t find–really points to something special or not. [+Thread: follow treasure map]

Character Sheet

Black-Eyed Mattie, Bandit

Skills: Stealth (Great), Archery (Good), Swordplay (Good), Toughness (Bad)

NPCs: eunuch fence, the Javie brothers, traitor second-in-command

Thread: follow treasure map

Inventory: bow and arrows, sword, leather armor, map

Begin Story

The road climbs up from the gully. Finally, it crests the low hill and the frontier lays itself out before me.

Is the town nearby? (Somewhat Likely) No, and…

The hills continue onward, unending, toward the horizon. I sigh and shoulder my pack. A long way to go. I follow the road as it snakes along the top of the ridge before falling down into the lowlands once again.

Do I see anything interesting today? (50/50) Yes – Enormously / Mighty

Before long the road finds its way creeping into a mire in the space between two hills. The air is thick and weighs heavily on me. Sound travels slowly. Eventually, I notice that a rhythmic thumping is not the beating of my own heart, but instead of something very large and very near.

Am I able to hide? [Stealth test +1] (Very Likely) Yes

I look around. The wet soil and stagnant pools are little like the rich forest where I came from, but they are not so strange that I cannot disappear in them when I need to. A rotted tree rises from the damp earth not a half-dozen paces away. I rush to it and press myself against the soft wood as the thumping grows louder and nearer.

The thing that passes, there can be no doubt, is an ogre. A man, or part of one, but twisted and stretched to horrifying proportions. Even from this distance I can smell the thing’s stench. I will it to come no closer. My thoughts never go toward my sword or bow. The beast is massive, ten feet tall or more, and muscled more like a bull than a man. I keep low and pray as it passes by.

Does it approach? [unlikely since I passed my hide test] (Unlikely) No

I hide like that for a minute or two, although it feels much longer. Eventually the great brute passes on, leaving squelching foot prints in the soil as it heads off toward whatever horrible errand drew it across my path. Finally, it is gone, and I pry myself from my hiding place and return to the road.

Can I reach the town that night? (50/50) No, but…

I get a few more hours of travel in before the sun sinks low in the sky. The town–if it really exists–is still so far off that I cannot see it. At least the road exists, and I figure it must lead somewhere. I travel on a little further before deciding that it would be foolhardy to press on any more in the darkness. That’s why I notice a glint of light shining ahead. A cabin! Barely visible, but another few minutes of walking reveal it to be true. Lights, a few feet apart–a fire revealed through windows. I hurry forward along the trail, caring little for the danger of the road or the light at the end of it. I want no part of night out here, where ogres dwell.

What does the building look like? Generously / Classy

A stately roadside inn stands beside the trail. A stout wall encircles a courtyard, and I can see lights shining within.

Can I hear voices inside? (50/50) No

All is quiet. If there are customers, they aren’t raucous ones. The whole thing seems strange–so large a building so far from civilization. But then, I suppose, any traders traveling to or from the end of the world must have to pass this way. I press in through the gate.

Is anyone around? (50/50) Yes, and… – Loudly / Lethal

Am I in danger? (Very Likely) Yes, and…

There’s blood already spilled! My eyes take in the courtyard.

Is the innkeeper dead? (Likely) Yes, and…

A portly man and his family lay dead in the dirt.

What is the attacker like? Fearfully / Aromatic – Gracefully / Damaged

A pack of fearfully smelly man-things move through the courtyard. As the nearest passes through the light of the inn’s open door, I see its flesh. Dark curves of scar tissue line every inch of the body that I can see.

Are there many of them? (Unlikely) No

I can’t believe I didn’t detect them sooner. Foolish! Now that I am inside the wall, I nearly retch from the stink rising from them. Like the smell of sickness and death, but still moving and grunting and killing.

Have they seen me yet? [Stealth +2 vs their Perception -1] (Very Unlikely) No, and… +Event: Trick / News

I fade back into the darkness, choking back the urge to vomit. As I watch, another figure steps out from the inn. This one is [Threateningly / Interesting] silhouetted against the light from inside the building, but even in profile I can see blades and pieces of metal sprouting from beneath its skin. It shouts at the three creatures in the courtyard.

Does it speak a language I can understand? (Unlikely) No

The guttural screaming is something like the speech of normal men, but somehow worse. The others bark back at it, and then it gestures toward the gate where I am hiding. I fall back and then run around the side wall as they move toward me. They step out onto the road and look around before moving off intently into the darkness.

Are they heading toward the town? (50/50) No

They pass over the road and disappear into the vast, rolling wilderness. I wait a few minutes, and then a dozen more, before I screw up my courage and return to the in. I listen, but can hear no sounds inside. The scent of death is still strong, but without the underlying sick smell. They’re gone. I draw my sword and move toward the innkeeper’s family.

Have the bodies been desecrated? (Very Likely) Yes

Was there any obvious intent to the desecration? (50/50) Yes – Overindulge / Illusions

I cover my face as I approach the nearest body. The innkeeper, I assume. A large man, given to fatness–or he was. His body is bloody now and partially flayed. Even worse, his eyes, nose, ears, and mouth have been mutilated. Sharp stakes of stone or metal have been driven into every orifice in his head. I survey the others. They’re no better. This was not done at random. [+Thread: Bizarre cult murders]

Is the ground soft enough to dig easily? (50/50) No

The ground here is rocky and dry. I might have been able to bury the family in the gully, but up here I doubt I’d be able to dig deep enough for the lot of them, and there is no way I’m dragging them beyond the wall in the night. I drag them together and gather wood for a pyre to prepare for the morning. I can’t leave them the way they are.

When the pyre is ready I allow myself a short breath, and then I set to exploring the inn.

Are there any other customers? (Very Unlikely) No +Event: Trust / Technology

[A piece of machinery (a gate, in this case) will protect me in the night]

Before I leave the yard I catch sight of the gate, swaying on its hinges against the wall beside the gate. I step closer and take a look. The wood is strong, and the lock and chain are fine. I shake my head. The thing must have been left unlocked, even in the dark. I swing it closed and slam the heavy bolts home. It won’t keep an army out, but I’ll certainly here if anyone tries to break through it.

That done, I turn toward the inn and sweep through the rooms. There aren’t many, but all are clean and well-kept. No customers this night. That’s lucky, anyway.

Are there any treasures to find? (Likely) Yes +Event: Inspect / Inside

[Yes, and it’s hidden]

It feels macabre to loot the homes of the recently dead, but I’ve nothing to my name and they’ve no more to fear from hunger.

Is the treasure well-hidden? (50/50) Yes +Event: Intolerance / Ambush

[And trapped]

[I rule that Mattie’s stealth skill probably means she’s good at finding decent hiding spaces, so I’ll give her a fair chance to find the treasure, and an okay chance to find the trap]

Where is the treasure hidden? Deceive / Suffering

I pour over the inn itself for the better part of an hour, finding plenty of food and drink and even a fair bit of small coin–coppers and [4d6=8] a handful of silver–but there’s nothing to write home about, nothing to rob the place over. Not the kind of folk who’d have been my target, even when I was the worst Black-Eyed Mattie I’ve ever been.

[+Rations, 8 sp]

After that, I move out into the yard again. Around the rear of the house I find a small graveyard plot.

Do I notice that one of the plots is fake, designed to hide treasure? (Likely) Yes, and…

[A bonus to find the trap too]

I stoop close, examining the headstones at first out of mere curiosity. That’s when I notice the earth–it’s raw, packed tight, and the thin grass the blankets the rest of the yard doesn’t grow here. Like it sees a lot of traffic. I examine the head stone, move it lightly with a hand. It rocks in the soil. Loose.

Do I detect the trap? (Somewhat Likely) Yes

I lift the headstone and drop it to the side. Below it lies a small hole, maybe four inches wide and sixteen long. At the bottom, nestled tight against the earth, is a small wooden box. I reach for it, but my hand stops itself short. Reflex? I check again–there, a wire. Strung just above the soil and run just above the lid of the box. I slide the box out, carefully, beneath the wire. When I’ve got it above ground, I find a stick and use it to prod at the thin wire. With a sudden clack, a bear trap concealed just beneath the surface of the soil snaps closed where the box had been. Powerful enough to break a wrist for sure.

But now it’s out. I take out my sword and use the tip to pry open the box’s clasp.

Is there anything unique inside? (Somewhat Likely) Yes

Something that may have caused those monsters to come here? (50/50) Yes, but… +Event: Block / The innocent

[Some kind of ward, but it doesn’t work any longer]

Is there gold inside too? (Somewhat Likely) Yes, and… 3d10 = 22

The small box falls open. A pile of gold and silver coins lie within in. I close the box quickly and take it inside to examine in relative safety. I pour the coins out onto the floor and count them.

Twenty-two in all. A king’s ransom, for out here. But amidst it all lies something else. A delicate silk bag, and within a circle of twisted vines, fixed around the middle with an iron ring and a silver chain. A necklace. Some kind of holy symbol? I lift it from the box, but when I do the dried vines crack apart and one half of the circle falls to the floor. Broken. I replace the pieces in the bag, which is surely worth many times more than the plain wooden ring. I slip the bag into my belt pouch. If it was worth keeping beside twenty-two gold pieces, it might be worth my keeping until I can find out what it is. [+Inventory: 22 gp, Broken holy symbol]

With the place searched, the bodies gathered, and the gate locked, I survey my surroundings. Everything looks as secure as I can get it. I find a spot to sleep, huddled up in the hayloft rather than the inn, just in case.

Does anything else happen that night? (Unlikely) Yes, but… – Lie / Realities

I sleep through the night, but my sleep is restless, haunted by strange dreams.

Dangerously / Cold

In my dreams I am descending, ever deeper, along a spiraling staircase. No windows penetrate the stairwell, but I can feel the air growing colder and colder as I go lower. The weight of air grows heavy, pressing down on me, choking me, but even so I find my feet carrying me ever onward. I don’t know whether I am being drawn down or fleeing what is above. It doesn’t matter. Whatever is down there, whatever cold death, I will go to meet it.

In the morning I rise and survey the land beyond the roadhouse’s walls.

Is there anything to see? (Unlikely) No

The land beyond looks still, calm, in the morning mist. I light the pyre and watch as the butchered family burns. I wish there was more that I could have done, but that’s the way of things. When the fire is roaring and I am sure it will not go out, I open the gate and set out along the road.

Do I encounter anything else before I reach the village? (50/50) No, and…

The country levels out as I head further east. My going is quick, and it seems as though I can see for miles in all directions. Soon enough, I see a thin smudge of dark against the sky. Another quarter hour and it resolves into friendly-looking trails of smoke rising from chimneys. I’ve reached it. The edge of the world.

Character Sheet

Black-Eyed Mattie, Bandit

Skills: Stealth (Great), Archery (Good), Swordplay (Good), Toughness (Bad)

Inventory: bow and arrows, sword, leather armor, map, rations, broken holy symbol, 22 gp 8 sp

NPCs: eunuch fence, the Javie brothers, traitor second-in-command

Thread: follow treasure map, bizarre cult murders